By Denise Richardson

Staff Writer

Health care providers may advance their knowledge to fight depression in pregnant women and new mothers thanks to a grant, officials said Monday.

The Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network of South Central New York, which serves Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and four other counties, was awarded $2,250 for an educational program it plans to offer later this year, Sharon Chesna, executive director of the nonprofit group, said.

``We're really thrilled,'' Chesna said. ``We needed the funding.''

The funding is from the Women's Fund of the Community Foundation for South Central New York, according to a media release.

The project's goal is to improve identification and treatment of perinatal mood disorder and help women experiencing these potentially devastating conditions, Chesna said. The request was for $3,150, she said, and the organization will seek funding to make up the difference.

The plan is to offer four programs with a projected attendance of 120 to 140 health care professionals, Chesna said, and continuing-education credits will be available. The programs would be in Broome, Chenango, Cortland and Otsego counties.

According to a project summary, national statistics report that more than 10 percent of new mothers and an increasing percentage of pregnant women experience mild to severe depression that can lead to pre-term labor and low birth-weight in newborns. In the severest cases, a new mother kills herself or her child/children.

During 2008, two incidents within the coverage region showed the need for provider training, the summary said.

In one case, a mother who planned to drive into a river with her newborn and toddler reached out to a network employee. None of three organizations contacted had staff able to diagnose and treat the woman, who eventually was taken for care to a facility in another county.

In the second incident, a mother was untreated and killed herself.

For more information on the project, call the network office in Binghamton at 772-0517 or visit

The Women's Fund is an endowed project to improve and empower the lives of women and girls, the release said.

The fund, founded in 2002, has awarded a total of $33,400 to almost 20 nonprofit projects and is raising an additional $500,000 for its endowment by the end of 2012 to increase annual awards.

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